"The rise of the far right and the worrying presence of the anti-immigrant sentiment across the EU draw attention to an urgent need for progressive forces to unite and counter the xenophobic narrative that has fuelled an increase in hate crime across the EU, particularly in recent months. Respecting fundamental rights and promoting tolerance are core European values and essential components of countering far right and xenophobic populism", Fajon emphasised.
She went on stressing that "with elections coming up in a series of Member States – including the Netherlands, France, and Germany - time has come to stand up for those values. Progressive local and regional politicians, who are well anchored at grass-roots level, must play a leading role in combatting the xenophobic narrative."
"The society needs more security, but this is much more about social security, solidarity, and a fair distribution of wealth, rather than about fighting terrorism", she underlined.
The second guest speaker, Philipp Sälhoff, Head of International Projects and External Relations of the Berlin-based think tank Progressives Zentrum, highlighted that populism goes hand in hand with political disaffection, and is a signal of a deeper crisis. "If we want to combat right-wing populism, we need to concentrate on those topics on which populists are weak, and which are not put on the "table of fear", such as social issues and housing. Likewise, we must better understand the identity of those groups of voters who are often those 'Left behind' by the globalisation", he stressed. Sälhoff also presented concrete recommendations for Do's & Don’ts for addressing populists.
The contributions were followed by a lively exchange of views with PES Group members, who will further discuss the topic in the framework of a Group seminar to be held in Brussels in June 2017 at the invitation of the Socialist Group in the Brussels regional Parliament.